London,
21
May
2020
|
15:18
Europe/London

LOTUS CORONAVIRUS UPDATE (21.05)

QUARANTINE DEVELOPMENTS

This week the travel and tourism sector has been buffeted with a series of different messages from the UK Government on the proposed quarantine measures that are due to come in at the beginning of June.

On Monday morning, readers of The Times were told that there would be very few exemptions for arrivals to the UK in terms of quarantine requirements. All modes of transport would be applicable under the scheme and France would not be exempt. Lorry drivers will make up the bulk of those who are exempted from quarantine rules.

During the day, hopes were raised by the Transport Secretary Grant Shapps telling Parliament that, whilst quarantine measures would be reviewed every three weeks, the strict quarantine on all arrivals into Britain could be relaxed in favour of a more targeted focus on people from high-risk countries.

The Times reported that Grant Shapps said that the government was considering going “beyond what will initially be a blanket” quarantine to allow people from certain low-risk countries to enter the UK. It would create “air bridges” between Britain and these countries, he said.

However, on Wednesday, TTG reported that a Boris Johnson spokesman said that the air bridges were “an option under consideration, but not agreed government policy”.

A Whitehall source said: “I think people would be unwise to book a foreign holiday in the expectation that an air bridge will open up in time for the summer holidays.

“It’s the sort of idea you might look at as you exit a quarantine system. But we are just getting started.”

“The introduction of quarantine rules, just as other countries are easing restrictions, dampens hopes that the industry can kick-start the summer season,” said TTG.

In a development on Wednesday, The Times reported from a Transport Select Committee that Britain will trial new health screening measures at airports as part of a wider effort to create “public health corridors” – co-ordinated by the United Nations – that allow flights to safely resume between countries while controlling further Covid-19 outbreaks.

MPs were told that plans are being drawn up to allow airports such as Heathrow and Manchester to cater for arrivals from states with common international health standards.

“The development will again renew hopes that a summer holiday abroad may be a possibility this year.”

Kelly Tolhurst, the aviation minister, confirmed that the plan was being discussed within a Department for Transport “restart and recovery group”, set up to re-establish the British aviation industry and the UK will seek to strike deals with countries such as Germany, Greece, New Zealand and Australia.

Final details of the quarantine plans should be revealed by the end of the week.

 

DESTINATIONS

Despite the UK’s current Foreign Office advice against all non-essential travel and overseas holidays, Government Ministers of Greece and Spain have taken to the airwaves in the UK to proclaim the safety of their destinations; outline the measures they will be taking to reassure visitors that they are safe destinations and to ensure their countries are front of mind when restrictions are lifted.

The Times and Sunday Times have both published separate reports on when holiday destinations will be open to receive overseas holidaymakers.

These are summarised here with other sources added.

UK

VisitBritain has recommended that the introduction of an autumnal bank holiday would help extend the summer and mitigate the losses of two missed May Bank Holidays. Patricia Yates, Head of VisitBritain predicted that there would be a £15billion drop in the tourism spend from overseas visitors, who were expected to spend £26billion in Britain this year.

Right now, it is possible to drive for daily exercise, but holiday hotspots are discouraging day trips to ensure social distancing. It is not possible to stay overnight outside of your own home.

The Cultural Secretary, Oliver Dowden, said the Government had formed a “very ambitious plan” to get the sector up and running by the start of July. Pubs, hotels, campsites and B&Bs are scheduled to open on 4 July, at the earliest, if infection rates continue to fall, after which British staycations will be encouraged.

The Times said that it is believed that campsites and holiday parks, where social distancing is easy to maintain, are likely to be among the first to be allowed to reopen, followed by private rental accommodation. Hotels and B&Bs, with their communal areas, are expected to be more of a headache.

Due to a heatwave, beaches on Wednesday were crowded, reports The Sun.

Ireland

Ireland has taken its first steps out of lockdown with people allowed to meet in groups of four from Tuesday. Sky News reported that phase one of the country's roadmap out of the coronavirus lockdown got under way on Monday, with those whose jobs are outdoors including construction workers and gardeners allowed to go back to work. People are now allowed to meet others from outside their household, but only in groups of four. They must meet outside, and social distancing measures must still be observed.

Some cafés and restaurants will be allowed to reopen from 29 June with hotels following suit on 20 July. Pubs, bars and nightclubs are likely to reopen from 10 August. Ireland is keen to attract tourists from the UK once restrictions ease.

Restrictions: Some vital air and ferry links between the UK and Ireland remain open, but anyone arriving must self-isolate for 14 days

Spain

Spanish borders are closed to most foreign arrivals until at least July (The BBC’s interview with the Foreign Minister suggested end of June). At present anyone arriving in the country must quarantine for 14 days (until at least 24 May).

The Spanish Foreign Minister, Arancha González Laya told the BBC Today programme that her country hopes to open up at the end of June – with the islands - Balearic and Canary islands first to open up to tourists.

British holidaymakers will be allowed back to Spain’s islands ahead of the biggest cities, she said.

Spain has had one of the strictest lockdowns in Europe, which it is lifting – but at different rates in different places.

Ms González said Spain is aiming to become “the safest destination in Europe. That’s top of our priorities right now.”

Domestic tourism will be open first, and then territories like the islands, which have been Covid-free, can open up to overseas visitors.

In contrast, she said, Madrid and Barcelona, which remain in lockdown “will need to build sanitary capacity that would allow them to face a new surge in the future”.

Spain is currently imposing 14 days of mandatory quarantine for anyone arriving in the country, but this is going to be temporary.

She said it could be replaced by temperature checks and other measures, possibly including a certificate showing the traveller is free of coronavirus.

Restrictions: Authorities “highly recommend” the use of face masks for all activities outside the home where social distancing cannot be guaranteed. Face masks on public transport are obligatory.

Spain’s major airports are now open, but on Wednesday the Spanish prime minister asked Parliament to extend the country's state of emergency for another two weeks, drawing fierce criticism from opposition parties. It would be the fifth two-week extension to the state of emergency, which is currently set to expire on Sunday. The Government wants to extend it until 7 June.

Portugal

No date has been set by Lisbon for the reopening of borders. On Tuesday, Portugal’s prime minister said beaches would reopen from 6 June, with 1.5 metres social distancing and beach sports, such as volleyball, limited to no more than two people. Hotels in the country plan to start reopening from 1 June. Each room must be unoccupied for at least 24 hours between guests.

Like Greece, tourism chiefs in Portugal have called for a deal with the UK to allow ‘air bridges’ to allow summer holidays to go ahead.

Restrictions: Use of non-surgical masks is mandatory in enclosed spaces, such as supermarkets, public transport and airports. Public transport capacity is limited to two thirds. Gatherings of more than ten people are banned.

Italy

Italy registered the lowest number of new coronavirus cases since early March as the Government eased a nationwide lockdown on Monday allowing shops, bars and restaurants to reopen as long as they respect health and safety rules.

Borders are due to reopen to tourists on 3 June. On Monday Milan joined the rest of the country in reopening cafés and restaurants and allowing friends to meet. Beaches are due to follow suit, albeit with rules including umbrellas being five metres apart. Some hotels are likely to reopen in June.

Restrictions: Facemasks are mandatory in enclosed public spaces.

The Netherlands

A gradual easing of the lockdown is under way and from 1 June museums and heritage sites will reopen. Visitors must buy tickets beforehand, to ensure people can stay 1.5 metres apart. Cafés and restaurants may also reopen outdoor areas from 1 June.

Dutch theme park Efteling re-opened on Wednesday while introducing new safe social distancing, hygiene stations and information on public health guidelines.

Restrictions: Non-medical facemasks will be mandatory on public transport from 1 June.

Turkey

The country is currently in lockdown. There are hopes some hotels and beaches will reopen to foreigners from the end of May.

Restrictions: Travellers arriving from overseas must quarantine for 14 days and no end date for this has been agreed. Face masks are mandatory in public places and on public transport. Sun loungers will be placed 1.5m apart when beaches open.

France

The French border will remain closed until at least 15 June and no confirmation has been given on when Britons may be able to enter the country for non-essential reasons. Cafés and restaurants in the country are likely to reopen from 2 June. Beaches are slowly reopening.

Restrictions: Facemasks are mandatory on public transport, including the Eurostar. French residents are currently allowed to travel up to 100km from their home.

Greece

Greece is planning on opening for tourism from 1 June, earlier than previously anticipated. Some beaches have already opened albeit with strict social distancing measures in place. On Monday customers were allowed to sit down in restaurants and tavernas and the Acropolis was opened. Beach bars remain closed.

Tourism Minister Harry Theoharis this week has said that it was hoped that a mutual agreement could be struck (air bridges or public health corridors) between the UK and Greece to allow summer holidays to proceed.

Jet2 is planning to resume operations by 17 June and Ryanair is relaunching departures in July, meaning Greece is possibly within reach this summer.

Restrictions: Greece is offering to drop its 14-day quarantine on arriving Britons if the UK reciprocates. Cruise ships are banned from docking in Greek ports. From Monday yachts from outside Greece (and without passengers) were allowed to dock at Greek ports. Crew will undergo mandatory health screening

The Greek Travel Pages report that travel to all the Greek islands will be allowed as of 25 May.

Greece is reportedly considering allowing inbound travellers from countries with successful Covid-19 containment including Cyprus, Egypt and Israel.

However, non-European citizens are still not allowed admission into Greece, as the country’s borders remain temporarily closed to non-EU nationals until 31 May.

Long haul destinations

CEO of Kuoni, Der Touristik, Derek Jones, told Travel Weekly that some long haul destinations have told the tour operator that they wouldn’t be receiving overseas visitors until the beginning of 2021, although most had said “September or October”. He said that Kuoni was fortunate as the July and August departure window was not as critical as it was to some operators. He also said that

space and isolation was a ‘key’ trend for holidaymakers making enquiries. He also said the Maldives currently accounted for 70% of Kuoni’s sales “driven by the remoteness of the islands,” but safaris and villas are also doing well.

The Maldives

Travel Daily reports that the Maldives are preparing a ‘grand’ virtual event to kickstart the island nation’s efforts to reopen its tourism industry on 8 June.

USA

Trump’s erratic handling of the coronavirus pandemic has resulted in state-by-state differences in restrictions. Tourist hot spots such as California and New York are currently subject to stay-at-home orders. Arkansas, Iowa, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Oklahoma, Utah, and Wyoming never issued state-wide stay-at-home orders.

Restrictions: Britons flying from the UK are currently banned from entering the US. International flights can land at only 13 airports in the US. Any requirement to wear a face mask is made at state level.

The Caribbean

The Mirror reports on what is happening in many of the most popular destinations in the Caribbean and when they hope to receive overseas visitors again:

Jamaica

There are currently no flights between Jamaica and the UK, but the country is preparing for a phased reopening of the tourism sector.

Prime Minister Andrew Holness told CNN: "We’re already figuring out ways how we can have controlled corridors of entry, and how to move our tourists safely from airports to hotels, so that they can enjoy our lovely beaches and our lovely people.

"That’s key towards providing the kind of service that people would need in the post-Covid environment."

Anyone arriving in Jamaica currently has to quarantine for 14 days, and there is no date for when this will end.

Barbados

There is currently a curfew in Barbados from 8pm to 5am every day. This will be lifted on 31 May.

Beaches began to open on 18 May, with limited hours of 6am to 9am and 4pm to 6:30pm.

Anyone arriving in the country must quarantine for 14 days, and the authorities are carrying out temperature checks at the airport.

British Airways will resume flights to Barbados on 1 July.

Bahamas

The Bahamas is hoping to reopen its borders for tourism on 1 July - although Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis has made it clear that this date could change.

He said: "Our resorts, our airports and our seaports are finalizing the health and safety protocols that will be necessary for us to provide for a re-opening.”

Aruba

Aruba will welcome back tourists at some point between 15 June and 1 July - with the final date yet to be decided.

The Government has established an Aruba Health & Happiness Code certification that will be awarded to businesses who have taken all the necessary health and safety measures to protect staff and customers from coronavirus.

Dominican Republic

The Dominican Republic has slowly begun to ease its lockdown measures, but it could be a while before it reopens to tourists.

The country's borders are still closed with all flights suspended (with the exception of flights to repatriate foreign nationals). There is a 7pm to 7am curfew.

Antigua and Barbuda

British Airways will resume flights to Antigua and Barbuda in July.

All hotels in the country will be inspected by a team of tourism and health officials before they are allowed to reopen for business.

Grenada

Grenada has not set a firm date for reopening but is aiming for June.

Prime Minister Dr Keith Mitchell said: "We will not move unless we are satisfied that adequate health and safety guidelines are in place."

St Kitts and Nevis

St Kitts and Nevis is currently not admitting anyone travelling or transiting from China, Iran, Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea, Japan, the EU, the UK, Switzerland, the USA or any Dutch or French territories in the Caribbean.

Any other non-national arrivals will be screened and must quarantine for 14 days.

Cuba

The Cuban Ministry of Tourism has confirmed that borders will remain closed for now, but that hotels and other venues are busy preparing for a time when tourists can return.

St Lucia

Saint Lucia is planning to open to tourists within three weeks in a phased approach that will see visitors from the US being the first to arrive, reports Travelmole.

To date, Saint Lucia has recorded 18 cases of Covid-19, and all individuals have fully recovered. No active cases are currently being investigated.

Visitors will have to present a certified proof of a negative Covid-19 test, taken within 48 hours before boarding their flight and must continue using face masks and physical distancing upon arrival.Travellers will be subject to screening and temperature checks by port health authorities and protocols are being established for taxis to provide safety precautions and separate the driver from guests as an added security measure.

Chile

The pandemic and the lockdown has sparked tensions over food shortages in a number of Latin American countries.

The BBC has reported that protesters and police have clashed in Chile. Local officials say they cannot cope with demand for aid.

Brazil

Brazil, meanwhile, has overtaken the UK in terms of reported virus infections and now has the third-highest toll of cases following the US and Russia.

Brazil is deeply divided over how to respond to coronavirus, with controversial President, Jair Bolsonaro, repeatedly downplaying its severity and arguing against lockdowns imposed by regional governors.

Two health ministers have left Bolsonaro’s administration in the space of a month, with the latest, Nelson Teich, resigning last Friday after clashing with the president. Teich’s predecessor, Mandetta, was sacked in mid-April after publicly questioning Bolsonaro’s flouting of social distancing guidelines.

China

Amidst fears of a second wave of the pandemic, China, which had been on a road to recovery, has ‘sealed off’ the north-eastern city of Shulan, home to about 700,000 people, after an outbreak of coronavirus, imposing measures similar to those used in Wuhan, reported The Guardian on Tuesday. The Daily Mail said that the citizens of Jilin had also been subjected to lockdown.

Separately, consultancy company McKinsey & Company have published a report on how the travel sector is recovering in China. ‘Businesses remain cautious, but almost all offices, factories, schools, and retail outlets have reopened. So have most tourist attractions.’ A recent China consumer-sentiment survey also showed confidence coming back.

At present:

  • Travel is entirely domestic with travellers preferring to stay close to home.
  • International borders remain closed.
  • China has imposed a 14-day quarantine (in homes or government facilities) for every person coming from overseas.
  • International flights are capped at one a week per airline and country.
  • There is a more than 90 percent drop in seat capacity from pre-crisis levels.
  • Hotel occupancy and domestic flight capacity are rising gradually but this kind of travel differs from pre-crisis norms in several important ways.
  • Peak recovery is set to be post-September and the majority of respondents are not planning to venture far until the National Holiday, in late September and early October.

India

India has extended its lockdown by another two weeks with Mumbai, New Delhi, Chennai and other key regions still fighting to control the rising curve. The health ministry on Sunday reported a record jump of nearly 5,000 cases in the past 24 hours, raising the number of confirmed cases to 90,927, with 2,872 deaths.

Domestic air travel will start on 25 May. Airports will initially resume at 30 per cent capacity.

South Africa

South Africa reported 1,160 new cases yesterday, the highest daily number since March. “As of today, the total number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in South Africa is 15,515, with 1,160 new cases identified in the last 24-hour cycle of testing,” said the health ministry in a statement. The Western Cape province, popular with tourists, accounted for nearly 60pc of the national numbers.

 

AVIATION

Global airline capacity grows for second week in a row

BTN Europe reports that global airline capacity this week grew for the second week in a row, with scheduled weekly seats back above the 30 million mark, up 6 per cent week over week, according to analysis by OAG.

The largest growth this week was in South Asia, where capacity is up more than 120 per cent week over week with 1.7 million seats added. That increase largely comes from India's domestic market, though there was also some recovery in Pakistan and Bangladesh.

Chinese capacity, meanwhile, was down slightly week over week, but the decline was "certainly nothing significant" as it compares with a public holiday last week, according to OAG analyst John Grant.

Global capacity remains 73 per cent lower than the same time last year, a deficit of about 83 million seats. Grant noted that week-over-week growth next week will likely be slower but that carriers are planning "significant capacity increases" in June, particularly as lockdowns and quarantine requirements in Europe ease.

Current situation at UK airports

At the weekend, a Daily Mail investigation revealed how thousands of international passengers were being let into the UK with no checks whatsoever. A reporter booked a BA holiday to Amsterdam from Heathrow and was not asked about travel plans or checked on arrival. There are no checks when passengers arrive back at Heathrow – while 130 countries have border restrictions, Britain currently has an open border policy.

IATA

Airline trade body IATA says that a combination of passenger temperature checks and contact tracing means there is no need for arriving travellers to be placed in quarantine.

However, IATA foresees the need for governments to collect passenger data in advance of travel, including health information, which should be accomplished using well-tested channels such as those used for e-visa or electronic travel authorisation schemes.

The association has set out a biosecurity "roadmap" comprising measures to guard against the spread of Covid-19 throughout the passenger journey pre- and post-flight. The objectives were two-fold: to give governments confidence to reopen borders to passenger travel; and to give passengers confidence to return to flying.

EU Aviation Safety Measures

The EU Aviation Safety Agency (Easa) has also provided draft guidance on safety requirements for airlines and airports across Europe, Travel Weekly reports.

Protocols and guidance have been developed for:

  • The avoidance of queueing in airports and on airlines
  • Passenger limits on the use of airport facilities
  • The minimising of opening of airport shops and restaurants
  • The use of facemasks
  • Physical distancing

Norwegian Air

Norwegian Air has completed its latest refinancing to ensure its survival this week.

The Financial Times on Wednesday reported that Ireland’s AerCap will own 15.9 per cent while BOC Aviation, majority owned by Chinese state-controlled Bank of China, will have a 12.7 per cent stake after they convert parts of their lease obligations into shares in Europe’s third-largest, low-cost airline.

The budget carrier confirmed the completion of the restructuring with a state loan guarantee totalling NOK 3 billion.

The carrier, which has grounded almost all operations, has struggled with high debt levels after a rapid expansion into the low-cost, long-haul travel sector and warned that the next months “will remain challenging”.

Travel Weekly reports that Chief executive Jacob Schram said: “Norwegian will still need to collaborate closely with a number of creditors as the company currently has limited revenues.”

The airline, previously the third-largest at Gatwick, has taken significant action to restructure its operations and return to profitability for more than a year.

Norwegian was on course to deliver a positive net profit in 2020, and this summer was set to be the strongest in its history.

But the coronavirus outbreak and global travel restrictions have led to a substantial drop in demand.

RyanairAs Ryanair provided its full-year results this week, CEO Michael O’Leary warned shareholders that it is unable to provide a forecast for the current year and it has cut its annual passenger traffic target by a further 20 per cent, reports The Times.

Europe’s largest airline said that it expected to post a loss of €200 million in the three months to the end of June but said that a forecast for the full-year was impossible because it had “no visibility” on customer behaviour and demand.

He used the platform to vent anger at the ‘state-aid dopers’ – as he calls Lufthansa, Air France-KLM and others, even though Ryanair has accessed a Bank of England loan of £600 million.

He also accused the UK Government of mismanaging the Covid-19 crisis and described the UK’s planned introduction of a 14-day quarantine period for travellers arriving from abroad as “idiotic and unimplementable.”

British Airways

The Sun reported that BA crew face a 55% pay slash. The paper says that BA cabin crew face a pay cut with salaries slashed to £24k. Airline bosses have written to set out new terms, which also states that they will receive commission on inflight sales and performance.

Aviation in Asia

Travel Weekly reported that Thailand’s Government has stepped in to approve a restructuring of debts at loss-making Thai Airways International as the airline announced an extension to its suspension of international flights until the end of June.

Japan Airlines is also reducing its international flight schedule by 96% for the month of June.

EasyJet

EasyJet announced on Thursday that it will resume flights from a number of UK airports from 15 June.

The low-cost carrier, which has been grounded since late March, said it would likely operate domestic flights only between 22 airports within the UK and France from 15 June, with more routes added when they became viable.

 

CRUISE

NCL: Slow recovery but with pent up demand

Travel Weekly reports that Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings expects a slow return to business despite “pent-up demand.”

The Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings president and chief executive, Frank Del Rio said: “We’re working with port operators and partners around the world on how to re-open. We expect sailings to start with a handful of vessels phasing in over five to six months.

Del Rio added: “It will take time to ramp up. It’s very easy to dismantle the whole operation. It takes time to rebuild it.”

Silversea to resume sailing on 16 July

Travel Weekly reports that Silversea Cruises has extended its pause in operations until July due to the Covid-19 crisis.

The luxury line plans to resume sailings with the ship Silver Muse on 16 July.

Royal Caribbean to resume sailing on 1 August

TTG reports that Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd (RCCL) said given ongoing global public health circumstances it had extended the suspension of most sailings to 31 July, with the exception of sailings from China, which will be suspended through the end of June.

 

ECONOMY

Rate of inflation halves to 0.8% in April

Inflation has almost halved to 0.8 per cent from 1.5 per cent as petrol and energy prices have fallen, reports The Sun on Wednesday to its lowest levels since August 2016.

Falling inflation is good for households in that it means the price we pay for goods has dropped. It also means there's more chance our savings aren't being eroded by inflation as the top savings rate is currently above inflation at 1.16 per cent.

"But the past few weeks have seen a sea of cuts from providers, following the Bank of England’s base rate cut and competitors cutting their rates.”

However, the Bank of England warns that when inflation falls, people may be put off spending as they expect prices to drop further, and if everybody does this companies could fail and people could subsequently lose their jobs.

Sunak: recession “like no other we have seen before”

On Tuesday, the Chancellor Rishi Sunak told a Lords economic committee that:

  • Britain is facing a recession on a scale “we haven’t seen” before and the economy could be permanently scarred after the lockdown
  • Recovery won’t be quick (not V-shaped)
  • Claims for unemployment benefits rose 69 per cent between March and April. The 856,500 increase to 2.1 million was the fastest month-on-month rise since records began in 1971.

Covid-19 triggers record numbers of profit warnings in travel sector

According to the latest profit warnings report published by tax an advisory firm EY, the travel and leisure sector is set to emerge from the Covid-19 crisis behind leisure and hospitality.

New figures showed that FTSE travel and leisure companies have issued 54 profit warnings so far in 2020 – equating to more than two years’ worth of warnings in less than six months. The figure is six times the number compared to the same period last year when nine were recorded.

Almost all (95%) of warnings issued by quoted travel and leisure businesses this year have cited Covid-19 due to exposure to the impact of national lockdowns.

The global financial crisis of 2008 and 2009 hit consumers hard. Leisure travel, as a discretionary purchase, could easily be cut back during these times of belt-tightening. For this reason, Arne Sorenson, President and CEO of Marriott International, says that, “[the travel] industry typically lags heading into a downturn and to recover.”

 

REFUNDS

The Times reports on a study by Which? which has found that more than half of people forced to cancel a flight or holiday because of coronavirus are yet to receive a refund.

Which? revealed that 58 per cent of customers had not been repaid and that more than a quarter of those owed money were missing out on more than £1,000.

Which? said that, according to their consumer insight ‘tracker’, trust in airline and travel companies had dropped from plus 9 points in February to minus 12 points this month, the lowest result in the seven years it has collected the data.

  • The Civil Aviation Authority began an investigation last week into refund policies.
  • ABTA said: it was “virtually impossible” for refunds to be paid within 14 days in the circumstances, but added that they should be paid quickly.
  • Airlines UK said: the effects of the pandemic had been “severe”, and that many airlines continue to receive “a far higher volume of refund claims than normal. Airlines are doing everything they can to work through the backlog as quickly as possible.” 

 

TRENDS

Skyscanner

The Daily Telegraph reports that a Skyscanner survey suggests price will be more important than health and safety for holidaymakers in the wake of the pandemic. 29% said price would be a guiding factor vs 19% who would be guided by the safety of a destination. These results come after experts predict prices will soar as airlines and operators look to recoup costs.

ETOA Survey

Ahead of the launch of ETOA’s first online B2B event, City Fair on 20 July 2020, a series of member surveys found consistently that between a quarter and a third of travel companies believe that the market will start to return to normality in the last quarter of 2020 and another two-thirds that recovery will take place in 2021.

Travel Agents

The latest TTG Travel Agent Tracker reports that 2020 bookings have fallen but agents are seeing a rise in UK interest:

  • The latest TTG Travel Agent Tracker, highlighting sales in the week ending 8 May, showed that of the small number of holidays still being booked with travel agents in the midst of the coronavirus crisis, the number made for later in 2020 had now halved to 10% of bookings.
  • Overall, 38% of travel agents responding to the survey said they had made sales during the week in question, marginally down from 41% the week before.
  • The number of agents seeing solid enquiries was also consistent at 60%, down from 63% in the prior week.
  • Some 20% of customer enquiries were around cruises. While beach holidays were the most popular type requested, agents also quoted receiving enquiries about “luxury rentals away from everyone” and holidays in the UK and Ireland.

Perspectives: The Future of Luxury Travel - #Experientialist LIVE

A webinar by the magazine Out There on the Future of Luxury Travel was held on 15 May with two speakers:

  • Simon Lynch, Director of Sales for The Luxury Group, the parent company to Scott Dunn and Imagine Travel.
  • Richard Liddle, CEO and Founder of two point four, an adventure and experiential travel company that focuses on families with young children

Simon Lynch: Bookings are coming in for 2021. (Not seeing bookings for 2020 yet, apart from Christmas).

The Indian Ocean is dominating and Africa, particularly East African safaris, are doing well. Thailand is also popular and of course UK and Ireland

Reasons for these destination choices are down to a desire for escapism and the relaxation element.

Guests are taking the Middle East stopover option in the Middle East.

He thinks the Indian Ocean might be proving particularly popular due to the option to have own villa – which fits into the isolation trend.

The Luxury Group is going out with a ‘book with confidence’ message.

They are promoting private villas and properties with separate entrances.

Personalised itineraries, individually designed to customer’s needs are important. For example, the Emirates service using chauffeur pick-up, which they’ve been doing for years – is the kind of service where travel groups are kept separate and will be very important.

From a wellness point of view, services such as in-room spas and personal experiences that properties can give to guests with their loved ones are important

Extended sabbatical will be popular – people will have accrued holiday during this period so extended breaks will be a trend for 2021 / 2022 – which in luxury is quite rare

Richard Liddle: The trends for escapism and remoteness are equally important for family travel

Families want to get active again – hiking, biking, surfing. This connects to concern from parents about lack of activity for the kids during lockdown.

He also says that parents will want to use holidays to be educational for their kids due to lack of schooling in past months. For example, a ranger tour in safari, or nature walk in Costa Rica.

He thinks the family travel market will move at same time as other sectors but may be slightly more reticent.

In terms of timings he doesn’t think international travel will happen in 2020.

He thinks people’s reluctance to travel is more about airports – how long it will take to get through with new measures – than the actual destination.

Health and safety for families will be key.

Multi-generational travel will be important. Kids haven’t been able to see their grandparents for months and people are craving social interactions

Uwern Jong, Editor of Out There: Uwern said that from their research, there are trends showing a move towards travel experts in luxury travel next year.

The webinar poll showed that most travel businesses are working on a mix of strategies based on different timeframes for restarting programmes.